Maxed out on technology at the end of my cable
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sharon has been out of action the last few weeks while battling COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated last winter. We're running some of her greatest hits while she's back home recovering. She'd like to urge everyone to get the vaccine to protect family, friends and those around them.
The upstairs TV is state-of-the-art, all black and gleaming. If it were bigger, we could see people's nose hairs.
I've finally maxed out on new technology.
OK, here is one of my darkest secrets.
Downstairs in the family room, where no one but Hubs and I go, there is a big piece of furniture, brown walnut, with a television in its center and big speakers on either side. I believe, when we bought it maybe 20 years ago, they called them "television consoles."
I don't know how big the screen is. It is not plasma. It is not flat. I can see it easily from my comfy chair. What I like about it is that I can turn it on without consulting a manual. It comes to life faithfully each evening when I settle in and click the red "power" button on its blissfully simple remote.
It produces a nice soft color that I have grown fond of. No glittering, beady eyes of harshly lit characters who peer out of the new TV.
We keep the hot new television upstairs, so people will think we are up to date. Some days, no matter what I do to it, and how many dozen buttons I press, it won't come on. It makes a little chiming noise and then it subsides, as if to say, "I'm much too tired to broadcast today." Some nights it won't go off and glows dimly in the dark kitchen all night.
It is an HDTV, which stands for Hellishly Difficult.
There is a huge book of instructions for it, which became instantly irrelevant when we hooked it to the cable box, which has a huge set of instructions of its own. So does the many buttoned remote. It's like having three versions of the Bible. Which to believe?
The upstairs television likely does a lot of cool stuff, but I don't have the time to find out. It is easier to go downstairs and turn the old one on.
So far this year we have acquired two new major appliances, a stove and a washing machine, and two minor appliances, a laptop and a camera. I have reached my maximum capacity for absorbing new technology.
Do you have any idea how many instruction manuals you must master to tame four such devices? This week, for instance, I set aside time to study up on the convection oven. My friend Jim warns that the camera book will take a whole afternoon and a big glass of whiskey.
Last month, I failed at printing mailing labels on my new computer. Worse, the computer doesn't have a manual. You are supposed to look it up on the computer. Isn't that rich?
A friend of mine has offered to help me set up wireless so I can carry my computer around and be upset in all rooms of the house. I thought about having to explore two cable companies and their services, about sales pitches from glib guys on the virtues of "bundling," and having to read 80 pages of instructions, and decided to keep the computer tethered to a single room.
Only so much technology can be mastered in any six-month period and leave a body time to enjoy life. It will just have to wait in line.
Sharon wrote this column in 2010.
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